Shirley Scott began playing piano and trumpet in her native Philadelphia. By the mid 1950s, she was playing piano in the city's thriving club scene - often with the very young John Coltrane. A club owner needed her to fill in on organ one night and the young Shirley took to it immediately, crafting a swinging, signature sound unlike anyone else almost from the get go.
On a swing through town, Basie tenor man Eddie Lockjaw Davis (1922-86) heard Scott and asked her to join his band. They recorded prolifically together - as co-leaders - and released a hugely popular series of Cookbook records for Prestige during the late 1950s.
Shirley launched her solo career in 1958, recording 23 albums for Prestige (1958-64), 10 for Impulse (1963-68), three for Atlantic (1968-70), three for Cadet (1971-73), one in 1974 for Strata East, two for Muse (1989-91) and three for Candid (1991-92).
She was married to the late, great tenor sax player Stanley Turrentine (1961-71) and the two made some of their finest music - together - for the Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse and Atlantic labels.
Her playing consistently possessed one of the most graceful and lyrical touches applied to the bulky B-3. But it was her deeply-felt understanding of the blues and gospel that made her playing most remarkable.
Shirley Scott resided in Philadelphia up until her death in early 2002. She occasionally performed locally (on piano, mostly) and was musical director of Bill Cosby's short-lived 1992 show You Bet Your Life